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Prisons: Pepper Spray

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 16th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Bradley Lord Bradley Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of issuing PAVA spray to prison staff, and, in particular, the impact on prisoners with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

Keeping everyone in our prisons safe is paramount and remains the organisation’s biggest priority. PAVA is only used as a last resort and is used safely and appropriately to best protect both staff and prisoners from serious harm.

It is important to recognise that this is just one element in a package of tools already in place to improve physical safety in prisons. It sits alongside Body Worn Video Cameras, Five Minute Intervention (FMI) training to enhance interpersonal interactions, a new personal safety training package, and the deployment of rigid bar handcuffs. All of these measures aim to help improve safety in prisons. We know that one of the most effective tools in managing people safely is the interpersonal skills of our staff. Therefore the introduction of PAVA will not happen in any establishment until all the staff there have had their FMI training and the new key worker role for our band 3 officers has been implemented.

HMPPS is committed and duty bound to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not and to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

In response to the Lammy Review, we are updating national training packages to raise awareness among all staff of the role of a range of biases in decision making, and strategies to combat these.

Quality assurance and scrutiny of incidents is vital to ensuring that force is used legally and appropriately. Governors will be expected to ensure that scrutiny takes place after any drawing and/or use of PAVA. We have developed a toolkit of resources to assist prisons in maintaining effective scrutiny.

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